On Tuesday, military officials from South Korea, North Korea, and United Nations Command (UNC) met at the Joint Security Area along the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to discuss the implementation of a recent inter-Korean agreement on military tension reduction. According to a statement released by the UNC, the sides met to “discuss implementation of technical level issues associated with the two Koreas’ recent Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA).”
The CMA between the two Koreas was concluded at the September 19 inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang following months of military-to-military talks between officers of the Korean People’s Army and the Republic of Korea Army. The tension reduction measures included in the CMA cover measures on the land, at sea, and in the air.
Part of the CMA, related to tension reduction at the JSA, incorporates the UNC. These measures are outlined in the Annex 2 of the CMA and include the ongoing effort by both Koreas to remove landmines from the JSA. Per Annex 2, the two Koreas are expected to complete de-mining the JSA by October 20, following which they, along with UNC, will begin a five day process of desecuritizing the JSA.
The text of the inter-Korean CMA calls on the three parties to “completely withdraw guard posts, personnel and firearms” from the JSA in Panmunjom. Later on, the three sides will also work to remove “unnecessary surveillance equipment” and share information with each other. At the end of the ongoing process of implementing the inter-Korean CMA, the three sides will establish a “joint administrative body” to oversee the desecuritization of the JSA.
Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the outgoing four-star U.S. general who leads both UNC and U.S. Forces Koreas, said that he was “encouraged by this productive, trilateral dialogue,” referring to the talks on Tuesday. “In large measure, this meeting joined the existing Armistice mechanisms used by the Korean People’s Army and the United Nations Command, with the more recent Korean People’s Army and Republic of Korea military dialogue to further advance implementation of the CMA,” Brooks said.
According to the UNC, the three sides have agreed to continue trilateral meetings to oversee the implementation of the CMA. The UNC’s Tuesday statement made no reference to the withdrawal of firearms, which is included in the CMA. It noted, however, that future dialogue will “likely included the implementing details of such matters as removing guard posts, reducing security personnel, and adjusting surveillance equipment.”
The implementation of the CMA comes amid the ongoing diplomatic process on the Korean Peninsula. In the coming months, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to visit Seoul. Moreover, a second U.S.-North Korea summit meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald J. Trump is expected at some point after the upcoming U.S. midterm elections.